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Wednesday 11-10-23: Lean to the left, lean to the right and put your hands up in the air…..

It’s our final day here in Italy, our flight isn’t until 6pm this evening and we’ve been afforded a lie-in as breakfast isn’t until 8.30am but we still had things to do, like pack for instance, but we decided to spend an extra ten minutes in our beds as it was going to be a long day. We spotted a few stink bugs on the walls but the majority of them seem to like to nestle in amongst the net curtains and to be fair to them they didn’t bother us like the flies did yesterday or the mosquitos did the day before, so we let them be! We conducted our usual post-mortem of the previous days adventures and as always we recalled lots of laughter and lots of emotion over supper, mainly coming from Johnnys eyes!

The group of Wannabe’s, you know who you are, who didn’t come to Bardi had a very leisurely breakfast and spent a very leisurely day in Pontremoli however I have to say we were a tad disappointed with them. You see, whilst we were enjoying a beverage or two at Belloti, Johnny’s favourite bar the previous afternoon we seem to recall that Johnny had asked the group if they could pop in to the Pasticceria degli Svizzera , just opposite the bar to purchase 6 amor’s and a selection of other pastries. A simple request one would think and something seven Wannabe’s could quite easily achieve but alas, it seems they failed this task miserably! Their excuse? They reckon the patisserie was closed when they arrived and stayed closed all day? Well, we’ll leave it there and say no more, but poor Angie, Johnnys cousin would now be without such lovely Italian fancies!

After we’d packed, had breakfast and paid for our stay we said our farewells to the Italian contingent, loaded up the mini-buses and at 10am we headed off along the motorway, Pisa bound. The aim was to spend a few hours sightseeing and have lunch before heading off to the airport. As we approached Pisa, Amanda sat poised with her phone, MapApp at the ready to guide Johnny to one of the carparks because by now he was starting to fret about not finding a car park or indeed a parking space! We were guided beautifully to the carpark just opposite the Piazza die Miracoli, the gateway to the Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa and guess what, there were plenty of spaces in the car park, all we had to do now was park up. The issue here was that it was all angle parking and according to Maice, the ‘oracle’, people don’t know how to ‘angle park’ properly. Of course she know’s how to as that’s the system in Canada! Apparently, the correct way to angle park is to drive into the space and then back out of it unlike Johnnys many attempts to reverse in. With the aid of Malcolm, David and whoever else was on hand to provide the necessary hand signals he finally managed it. Honestly what a ‘malaver’! Suffice to say it took a few attempts to park, whereas Richard literally just sailed into his space. Just sayin’!

We crossed the road, regrouped and then headed off in various directions to do our own thing. We had to meet back at 2.30pm so we had at least two hours to sightsee and have a spot of lunch.

We made our way into the piazza with hundreds of other like-minded tourists to find people contorting themselves into some strange shapes all trying to find the best creative photo with the leaning tower as the backdrop. We did try a few poses but didn’t quite master the knack. Apparently photo-bomber Paul executed the perfect photo-bomb…..he high-fived a woman whose hand was outstretched against the tower! Fortunately she saw the funny side to his antics unlike the woman on the boat! As we were trying out some creative poses we asked this random guy to take a photo of us and pulled in Johnny, Jaci, Kev, Ken and Claire who we found loitering behind us. Asking everyone to jump, they did so on command and lo-and-behold we captured a photo of everyone mid-air.

We wanted to visit the Duomo and wandered off to the ticket office but you were given a time slot which was too late for us so we headed off into the backstreets, found a cafe and enjoyed an Aperol Spritz and a sandwich. It was just what we needed.

Before we piled into our respective mini-buses for one last time we had to pay for the car-parking. Maice and I went inside the office where we purchased our ticket and talked to the nice man behind the counter whereas the others got there ticket from the machine outside. We set off through the barriers, Johnny first, Richard following, or so we thought. We’d driven up the narrow road almost to the junction when we realised that the other mini-bus was no-where to be seen. By now we were causing a traffic jam, Johnny was becoming impatient and muttering to himself and still they didn’t appear after five minutes so we sent David off to investigate. Apparently they’d been playing the hokey-cokey with the ticket machine. The ticket went in then was spat out, it went in and was spat out, and so it continued. They had to be rescued by the attendant who let them out manually and with that Johnny was restored to his usual calm self!!

Having filled up with petrol, dropped off the two mini-buses and checked in our bags we all met up in the cafe outside. I must say we were quite pleased with the weight of our case. On the way out it was 15kg and on the way back it was 17.5kg, not bad considering we had lots of cheese and honey stashed in the case. We eventually made our way through the barriers into the departure lounge all except for Johnny that is whose boarding card didn’t seem to want to let him through. On inspection by the authorities and according to the data, he’d already scanned his boarding pass, but how could that be? The plot thickened! He was taken away and it soon transpired that Tracey had gone through using Johnnys boarding pass. She’d booked Johnnys flights and had inadvertently scanned his pass. Crisis averted, Johnny was soon able to join the rest of the wannabe’s in the departure lounge.

I think we all slept at some point on the plane and before we knew it we’d landed, collected our luggage and waited for the coach to arrive. Poor Tracey had to endure the same 70s/80’s music again. I’m sure she never wants to see or hear a chirpy-chirpy cheep-cheep ever again! Having stopped for a bite to eat at Fleet Services we arrived back in Dorchester at 11.30pm, in the rain.

And that was it. The Tuscan Wannabe’s Tour had come to an end. No one could have envisaged what a fabulous holiday this would turn out to be. Take one cafe owner, add fifteen loyal, quirky customers, mix together, add a sprinkle of sunshine, some cousins and you’ve got a recipe for success.

So thank you to everyone for making this holiday extra special. It really has been phenomenal and we’ve all come away much richer with the friendships that have been made.

Finally, we’d like to say a big Thank You to Johnny without whom we’d never have done the things we’ve done, never have seen the things we’ve seen and would never have laughed so much as we did every day. To Johnny, his numerous cousins and Grondola………thank you xx

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